Jeremy Tuplin announces new single and debut album

Jeremy Tuplin

London-via-Somerset newcomer Jeremy Tuplin will release his debut LP I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut in the summer of 2017.   Following on from his two independent released EPs (2016’s Open Letters and 2014’s Carry The Fire EP), his music was described in The Telegraph Culture section as ‘Stunningly candid… A distinctive deep vocal that has hints of Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan.’

The album was recorded with long-time collaborator Mark Estall, mostly in his new Marketstall Studio in South Bermondsey (with extra recording taking place in both Tuplin’s and Estall’s living rooms). Musically the new songs take a different direction to the earlier released EPs, combining electronic and synthesised sounds with more acoustic and organic instruments for a ‘retro-futuristic feel’ to branch into a genre which could, possibly, be described as ‘space-folk’.

The first taster from the new album comes in the shape of ‘Where The Light Ends’ which you can hears below.

This song is split into two halves – one a journey into space, and the other describing the closure of a flawed relationship. Both connected in certain ways and by the refrain “Where the light ends, and the darkness begins”, before coming to an instrumental, spacey resolution.

“Stunningly candid… A distinctive deep vocal that has hints of Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan” The Telegraph Culture
“Cohenesque… A dexterous lyricist with an ear for gentle melody.” Whisperin and Hollerin
“A gorgeous, swooning, romantic EP… A tight, careful, ornate beauty over 5 tracks. It sounds effortless, which is a grand achievement.” Independent Clauses

Artist’s website: http://www.jeremytuplin.com/

KATE DIMBLEBY – Songbirds (Folkstock FSR44)

SongbirdsFor the past 25 years Kate Dimbleby, the daughter of legendary broadcaster David and opera loving cookery writer Josceline, has been plying her musical trade in live performance, most notably in her one woman shows and albums based around Peggy Lee and Dory Previn. However, Songbirds, her sixth studio album and accompanying show, is the first on which she’s written all the material and the first she’s performed (almost entirely) a capella, layering her voice using techniques learned studying under Bobby McFerrin.

An experiment in polyphonics, she describes it as charting her own journey to find her true voice and it ranges stylistically across jazz, blues, folk and even reggae while the songs themselves span many years. Indeed, the opening track, the bluesy spiritual styled, scat-accompanied, fingerclicking ‘Limbo’, was the first song she ever wrote (and originally featured in its late night jazz arrangement on 2006’s Things As They Are), the outcome of her first real heartbreak while the lyrically upbeat 20s jazz and doo wop shades of ‘Whatever’ emerged from the first song she wrote after the family’s move to Bristol five years ago.

The dreamy 50sish ‘Love Can Be Easy’, born of and reflecting a peaceful day camping by the sea is of more recent origin, as is ‘Happy’, a follow on from her work with McFerrin that involves vocal looping, scat vocal backing and some playful warbling was the spontaneous result of task set by online group the Society for Spontaneous Singing. Another group exercise was also responsible for the brief ‘Harder Than You Think’, a sort of vocally multilayered work song about the difficulty in writing a song about walking. Equally brief is the 66 second ‘At Our Best’, a minstrel-like song you could imagine having been penned by Stephen Foster.

The newest though is ‘Life Is’, completed just before going into the studio, a straightforward soaring pop song for her husband and father about telling people you appreciate them while they’re still around to listen.

There’s a hint of the McGarrigles and some discrete beatboxing – to be heard on ‘Musical Boxes’, an idea that formed the basis for her live show in that, as she puts it, “we’re all musical boxes with our own themes and resonances but we just don’t listen enough to really appreciate each other. I liken it to the dawn chorus… every bird is offering up something totally unique.”

The remaining three songs have their roots in specific locations. The bass hummed, gospel infused ‘These Things, They Will Come’, a how long/be patient number, stems from time spent on Vancouver Island back in 2003 where at the time suffering from severe back pain, she retreated to a more simple life and found healing, both physically and mentally, in nature.

A hill in Sussex spawned the wordless vocal line in album closer, ‘Song For A Hill’, the only non a capella number, employing percussion, bells, electronic sounds and field recordings made in London, and the penultimate track, my personal favourite, the simple and quite lovely and poignant ‘Walk Away’. An uncluttered, simply sung number, her lone voice and self-harmonising again reminiscent of the McGarrigles, it’s about finding intimacy and beauty, both in the world around and within yourself. She says the album is about the voices we keep locked up inside and about the need for connection. Do yourself a favour, open the cage and build a bridge.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.katedimbleby.com

‘These Things They Will Come’ live:

SALLY BARKER – Ghost Girl (Old Dog Records 017)

Ghost GirlThe title track is a new recording of the song she wrote for 2015 Poozies album, Into The Well, featuring real rather than electric piano, given a softer feel and with Tom Bull on double bass, Sally Barker’s follow-up to Maid In England, the 2014 album on the back of her appearances on The Voice, is woven around a theme of abandonment and putting your heart back together.

One of the first reactions to being dumped is want retribution, and smoke-wisped jazzy blues opening track ‘Emperor Of Cool’ taps into the narrator’s embittered feelings towards the ex who cruelly tells her, “the harmony to all of your songs” he only dated her for a bet, sharing his less attractive attributes with whoever she meets.

Realisation of being broken arrives with the early Dylan influences of ‘I’m Not Whole’, the acoustic guitar riff behind the piano written and played by her son, its lyrics built around imagery of the sea and being washed up on the shore. Delivered against a steady acoustic guitar pulse and streaked by pedal steel, ‘Like Sugar’ offers a different spin, a woman lonely while her soldier husband is away at war being courted by a local chancer bringing food and stockings and offering to help with a little DIY.

Picking up the ‘Ghost Girl’ imagery and running with it, ‘Vampire of Love’, featuring Sally on piano and guitar, is a slow dance romancer with a 30s styled waltzing chorus that, set in Victorian England, draws on the dangerous sexuality embodied in the Dracula-inspired seducer.

The mood shifts again for the 60s R&B sultry groove of ‘Hand of Fate’, apparently written for Tom Jones and inspired by the offer of major label deal following The Voice, one which, perhaps wisely, she declined. Bolstering the instrumentation with keys, slide and electric guitar (Knopfleresque solo provided by PJ Wright), the country tinged ‘Mr Bang’ apparently has its inspiration in a difficult and troubled chap who also happened to be very loud drummer.

If it’s been about loss, betrayal and loneliness so far, the even more country slow waltz ‘Two Hearts’, again featuring pedal steel and with Ian Crabtree on Spanish guitar, addresses the possibility of finding new love, hope tinted with hesitancy.

Underpinned by double bass, the earlier jazz vibe resurfaces for the smoky, finger clicking ‘Queen of Reckless Feelings’, a lyrical throwback to Barker’s earlier and less complicated singleton days. She reminds me here slightly of Janis Ian, as indeed she does on the spare acoustic ‘Tell It Like It Is’, a brittle break up of an affair number, even if the publicity blurb evokes Dory Previn, another 70s singer-songwriter doyenne of songs about spurned and discarded lovers.

The album ends with Glenn Hughes on piano for the brief instrumental ‘Theme to ‘Ghost Girl’’. But, before that pedal steel, Spanish guitar and the theme of new but difficult starts are reprised with the folk and country tones of ‘Canada’, a strummed first person narrative of hardships suffered by settlers encouraged by the British Government to emigrate there in the early 1800s on the back of the fur trade boom and build new lives for their families. Some went under, but many more survived and emerged stronger for the experience, which, in a nutshell, is the message at the core of this fine album.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.sallybarker.co.uk

‘Ghost Girl’ live:

SINGLES BAR 18

A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Having released their Death and Other Animals album to wide acclaim last year, FAUSTUS return to the well to lift ‘Slaves’ (Westpark Music 87333) to head up their new 5-track EP, their first for the Germany-based label. You should, of course, be familiar with the number, an arrangement of an 1840 call to arms against injustice meted out to the common man in England taken from the Ruth Tongue archive at Halsway Manor. Also from the album is a radio edit of ‘One More Day’, while ‘The Knife of Brian/ Bluebells and Beech Woods’ is a six-minute instrumental comprising two waltzes, the first a melodeon wheezer, the second a more stately woodwind led affair, hitherto available as an album bonus download. Meanwhile, ‘Thresherman’, the Roud 19 ballad about the rural poor, was, as long time fans will know, recorded by Sartin and Kirkpatrick on The First Cut, the 2003 album in their previous incarnation as Dr. Faustus. Here, it’s a live March 2015 recording from The Lights in Andover, as is the fifth track, a what was then work in progress preview of ‘Slaves’ itself.
http://www.faustusband.com/

THE SWEET WATER WARBLERS are an all female Michigan trio, comprising Lindsay Lou, lead vocalist with The Flatbellys and 2016 Best Vocalist nominee for the International Bluegrass Music Association and fellow singer-songwriters Rachael Davis and Mary Erlewine who, as well singing, trade such instruments as piano, banjo, uke, double bass, banjo and fiddle.

Out at the start of March, the self-released With You is a five-track collection of self-penned material and, featuring Davis on powerful gospel-styled lead, an inspired arrangement that sets the lyrics of one traditional number to the melody of another with ‘House of Amazing Grace’. Davis also contributes and plays banjo on the pure-voiced close harmony Appalachian-styled ballad ‘Lazarus’, featuring Erlewine on mountain fiddle.

Erlewine herself has two numbers, ‘Too Soon’, a number that lives up the trio’s name and is sure to earn them a new Be Good Tanyas tag, and the closing guitar and piano love song yearner title track. The remaining number comes courtesy of Lou, kicking the EP off with the bluesy a capella ‘Sing Me A Song’, herself on lead and sharing the three part harmony chorus, setting the seal on an auspicious debut and introducing a name we’ll be hearing a lot about in the months to come.
https://sweetwaterwarblers.com/

Bringing Americana closer to home, BROKEN FLOWERS are a three-piece alt-country outfit from West Yorkshire, lining up as singer Anna Mosley on rhythm guitar, Darren Gibbs on lead and Mike Brown on bass. They’ve alreadty released an album and follow that up with the self-released six-track So Many Shadows. They’ve cut their teeth on the UK country circuit and the EP reflects an awareness of the need to appeal to a range of tastes and audiences while keeping the feet on the dancefloor. Opener ‘Stephen’s Song’ is a solid mid-tempo chugger with swaggery hooks and is, in turn, followed by the slower dance paced ‘Easy On Me’, a mood echoed by the bruised heart love and loss notes of ‘Right About Now’.

But if they colour within the lines, they do so with confidence and bold strokes, prepared to challenge the quick fix approach with two six-minute plus numbers, the rolling punchy country rock of ‘Anywhere’ and mid-tempo demo closer ‘Sunday Morning’ with is Texicana guitar flavours and Mosley’s twang. And to top that there also a near eight-minute ‘I Saw A Light’, a slow burn soulful smoulder about the 1838 Huskar colliery disaster in Barnsley that shifts into a thundering, desert guitar howl climax before ending with the words “You keep the gold we pay the price,” spoken by Mosley’s seven-year-old son, the same age as her great great great uncle, James Burkinshaw, the youngest of the 26 children to drown when the pit flooded.
www.brokenflowers.co.uk

THE BROTHER BROTHERS are actually twin brothers Adam and David Moss based in Brooklyn. Adam is plays fiddle in a variety of old styles. Guitarist David is originally from Peoria – no, we can’t figure that out, either – and has two albums to his credit. Together they play a sophisticated Americana which still maintains the edge you look for in the genre. Tugboats would seem to be their recording debut, a six-track EP of mostly original songs – the cover isn’t very informative.

The title track is a slowish country waltz with a clever lyric rooted in their home city and a nice bit of philosophy: tugboats go slow because that’s the way to pull a heavy load. ‘Bird In A Tree’ is an up-tempo fiddle song that could pass as traditional. ‘Columbus Stockade Blues’ is traditional, made famous by Doc Watson and here given a rhythmic finger-style guitar part and a brief fiddle break. ‘Come Back Darling’ is a fiddle backed exercise in harmony singing – rather ponderous when compared with the rest of the set but ‘Notary Public’ restores the lightness we’ve enjoyed so far. ‘Cairo, IL’ is probably by David, Illinois being the link. It has a slightly west coast feel except for the fiddle breaks which firmly locate the song further east.
www.thebrotherbrothersmusic.com

Oft-compared to Ray Davies, following on from last year’s mental-health themed concept album, Silver Meadows, [Fables from the Institution], VINNY PECULIAR has released a new four track EP, The Fairer Sex (Shadrack & Duxbury SAD EP 012). Another concept collection, this time it centres around gender-linked identity, opening with gradually swelling piano-backed reincarnation ballad ‘I Came Back As A Girl’. Sexual exploitation provides the theme for ‘House of Girls’, a deceptively dreamy keyboards-led melody couching a lyric about porn webcams and the ‘gentlemen’s’ clubs run by the likes of Stringfellow and Hefner. Again built around melancholic piano, ‘No Reply’ is a wistful reflection on the end of a relationship (“I don’t want to be your new best friend, so I can never see you again”), while the final track, ‘Trial By Lingerie’, is a synth and percussive click track setting of a playful poem offering “a lighthearted look at male humiliation in an M&S Lingerie department.” Basque in its delights.
http://vinnypeculiar.com/

GARY INNES – Era (own label GH101)

EraOh boy, do I like this CD? Yes, I do! Era is only the second ‘solo’ album released by Gary Innes who is part of the award-winning group, Mànran and it has such a variety of material that it grasps you from start to finish.

All of the tunes and songs are written by Gary, highlighting a superb talent. Strangely enough, I was not taken so much by the first track, ‘Yarra Wine Valley’. I liked it but it is my least favourite of the ten tracks on the CD. If you feel the same way then do not let it put you off listening to the rest if the tracks.

Track two, ‘The Road To Lochaber’ is beautiful. Great melody, great tempo and has a power build up throughout the track.

‘The Caman Man’ is a fabulous song written cleverly, affectionally but also humorously as a tribute to shinty the sport that Gary loves and represented Scotland in as captain, several times. I am not a Robert Robertson fan although the clarity of his vocal is a bonus, but possibly the humour is missed a bit. The players described as “wood swinging brothers” is brilliant! A great track and song that will surely be picked up by many singers.

Track four highlights Gary’s fabulous instrumental skills but track five is as good as it gets. ‘May Life Always Be Peachy’, a tune that Gary composed for his brother and his new wife to dance to as their wedding dance. “Peachy”, apparently is his brother’s name for his wife based on a specific part of her anatomy. I can imagine this tune being played as an anthem by massed pipe bands. It is beautiful.

The rest of the CD continues with such a variety of material that I could go on and write pages, but shan’t. However, track seven, ‘Zara’, is for his little niece and is sung by Siobhan Miller. It is a masterpiece of beauty and feeling, a credit to any songwriter.

The list of backing musicians is impressive and what I especially like about this CD is that Gary has not fallen into the trap that many musicians do when entering a recording studio with a group of musicians. No loud, heavy drumming, no offensive bagpiping, no bumping up the tempo. Gary has controlled the entire product and produced a CD of beautiful melodic music that will appeal beyond the limited audience of ‘Folk’!

I also like the fact that the songs are in English, written by somebody heavily involved in Gaeldom , so we can all understand what is being said.

The CD Era represents the passing of an era for Gary as he realises his life will now be dedicated to music. He no longer plays shinty or is part of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Let’s hope this CD is part of a very successful era.

Fraser Bruce

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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Artist’s Website: www.garyinnes.com

‘The Caman Man’ (Warning: features Shinty):

TOP FLOOR TAIVERS – A Delicate Game (TFT Records TFTR001)

A Delicate GameThe first thing I had to do was discover the meaning of taiver. Apparently it means a rag and, by extension, low or abject. Top Floor Taivers is a good name for a band but there is nothing abject or low about Claire Hastings, Gráinne Brady, Heather Downie and Tina Jordan Rees or their debut album, A Delicate Game.

There’s not that much delicate about their music either. The opener, ‘Johnny O’ Braidieslee’ begins with big piano chords from Tina counterpointed by Heather’s clarsach and Gráinne’s fiddle. It’s a great old ballad of death and derring-do and Top Floor Taivers do it full justice. Next is Findlay Napier’s ‘Princess Rosanna’ inspired, so we’re told, by graffiti on a Glasgow wall. The song is ostensibly about a woman who drowned in the Clyde although I’ve long fancied that Princess Rosanna was, in fact, a ship. Again, it’s given a robust treatment after an a cappella introduction – perhaps a shade too strong given the subject.

‘The False Bride’ is actually quite delicate and stately with piano and fiddle, despite the pain at the end of the story, but the ladies immediately return to the robust with ‘Everybody Knows’. Most people think of Leonard Cohen as being somewhat morose but he could be a bit of a curmudgeon with a bitter sense of humour and a wicked way with words. This is one of his best songs in that vein.

I love ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ but I always worry when someone covers it because, for me, the essence of the piece is Richard Thompson’s incredible guitar part. No-one else dare even attempt it. Top Floor Taivers begin the song with staccato piano chords before opening it out with fiddle but it’s Tina’s playing that expresses the story.

‘Jeannie And The Spider’ is by Heather and her brother Alasdair but sounds traditional and ‘Campfires’ is not so much delicate as fragile with lead vocalist Claire Hastings’ echoey ukulele sounding almost mournful behind her. ‘Ramblin’ Rover’ is a song that is being covered a great deal in the wake of Andy M Stewart’s death and it may be that, of all the songs he’s written, this fine rollicking piece will prove to be his legacy. Finally ’10 Little Men’ is Claire’s adaptation of a nursery rhyme complete with what I take to be synthesised sounds.

A Delicate Game is a fine debut album and I reckon that Top Floor Taivers must be a knockout live.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.topfloortaivers.com